Student Teaching in London

The Second Week

Thursday, Nov.12

This was the morning I forgot my keys in my room in the morning.

This was also the day of my first official observation by Barbara Pattinson.

After assembly and hearing readers while the co-op was taking the register (roll), I started working with small groups, out in the hallway outside the door.

First I worked with David, John, Steven, and Jamie in maths, helping them to understand and use the mechanics of long division. I had a list of problems for them to do. I had everyone do the first problem together, step by step. Then I had them work on their own, finishing up with some problems which form an interesting pattern.

There were 10 multiplication problems (written vertically on the paper):

  1. 798 × 18
  2. 312 × 12
  3. 411 × 13
  4. 329 × 13
  5. 427 × 12
  6. 347 × 13
  7. 165 × 16
  8. 525 × 15
  9. 718 × 14
  10. 596 × 19
Then the special pattern:
Multiply these numbers times 11
192 283 374
What do you notice about them?
It went well, except that it got somewhat noisier than I would have wanted it to, but they seemed to get a good grasp on the mechanics of multiplication.

David was the first to discover the pattern of the ending problems. He was very excited about that. He kept finding more and more problems which fit the pattern, until it was time to stop. They were all excited about finding the pattern.

The pattern, by the way, is that they form symmetrical numbers, i.e. 192×11=2112, 283×11=3113. To find other numbers in the same pattern, the center digit is reduced by one, while the first and third are increased: the first two digits add up to 10 and the third digit is one higher than the first digit. I discovered this pattern by accident.

Some of them had to be helped to find the pattern. I told them to line them up vertically, and compare each digit. David didn't need any help to find the pattern.

I worked with the same group for history. Their lesson was on Tudor homes. That was challenging for me, in that I hadn't had the faintest idea what a Tudor house looked like until that lesson! They are easily identifiable in that each floor of the house sticks out a little farther than the floor below, and they are ornately decorated. After the lesson, I did notice one or two Tudor buildings around London!

I talked about the various parts of Tudor houses which were discussed in the book. I had them describe what their homes look like, and then pointed out how Tudor houses are different.

It was a very good lesson. After the discussion, I said for them to "Write as much as you can possibly think of about Tudor homes." They all wrote a lot. Then I had them draw a picture, which was a bit harder. I suggested to John, who was having the most trouble, that he try to draw just from the description he had written, instead of trying to find a picture in the book to copy.

I did R.E. (Religious Education) with the same four. It was about the story of David and Goliath from "The Lion Children's Bible" which they always use.

I had lists of things to discuss between them: the meanings of the words jackal, jeering, champion, and the phrase "give you into my hand," and also the job of a shepherd, the music which later became the Psalms, how Saul became king, how the armies were arranged, why they laughed at David, how David knew God was with him, how a sling was used, how it killed Goliath, why he cut off his head, and why the Philistines ran away.

The lesson didn't go as well. They were too noisy, and didn't pay much attention. David read rapidly ahead in the book and then was carrying on with John, and the other two weren't much better. There was only one part of the lesson where I really got their attention, and that was when I described the arrangements of the armies and the military strategy they were using. They found that very interesting; if I had known that was what was going to happen, I would have concentrated on that a lot more than I did!

I did threaten Jamie to get him to be quieter, threatening to have him kicked out of the play (he was the star: Samson).

Steven seems to like to do a lot of calling out answers. I have to remind him not to do that, and not accept any answer from him or ask him to read if he calls out answers like that.

I noticed today that all the electric light switched in England are backwards: "on" is down and "off" is up!

Dipash wanted to join the group out in the hall. At least, apparently, he wasn't as scared working with me now! I guess after doing reading with me the day before, he got to know me enough to know not to be nervous when working with me.

Hearing Nicola read that day, I continued with the same method I had started the day before. It's continuing to work. But she does have trouble remembering the meanings of new words.

Nicola had trouble understanding the lesson about heart rates that day. I tried to explain it by asking her questions to help her find the answers herself, but she got the impression that I was asking her questions because I didn't understand it either! That method doesn't work very well with her, so I know to avoid doing that with her.

John got a new reader, a much easier one. He did much better, and his comprehension finally started improving. His other reader had been too hard for him. Things got a lot better when he got a book at his true level.

Michelle did a good job reading today. She remembered and understood all her new words. I always enjoy working with her. She's so cheerful, it always cheers me up too. I often hear her read first thing in the morning (she's at the top of the alphabetical 5-times-a-week reading list).

Joanne did a good job with her reading, except that she had quite a bit of trouble understanding the word "proposed".

Martinique has been absent all week.

I heard Shelley reading in a different part of the room than where she normally sits. She didn't like having to do her reading in a different part of the room (from then on, I did it with her at her regular seat).

Georgina forgot her book again. She read from "Alice in Wonderland". She didn't know the word "hearthrug" until I explained it, but her comprehension was fine. She is another one who is pleasant to read with; a serious worker, calm and quiet; not laughing a lot like Michelle, but just as happy, though in a quieter way.

Before dinner (lunch), as sometimes happens, the co-op had some of the children do miming, and the rest of the class has to figure out what the person is supposed to be doing. Esther did a very good job of miming a person in chains.

Here is what the supervisor had to say on the observation form:

The class were finishing various writing activities and Richard was concentrating his attention on one child. When this was completed Richard took a group of four boys who need extra help into an anteroom to work on multiplication. This activity was suggested by his cooperating teacher the night before. She asked that he consider the value if the exercise and enhance it with ideas of his own. He had prepared work sheets that ultimately showed the logic of pattern. Richard has the intriguing knack of imposing control, encouraging thought and promoting work with a quiet assurance that is easier to describe than define. Richard has made himself aware of what the boys were capable of and targeted the work well. There was a healthy admixture of reliance on past maths experience, confidence of place value and the use of fingers and rote memory in gaining the answers. Richard supplied intermediate answers when he judged it to be correct to ease the flow of the concept work. It was a lively, satisfying session. The next lesson observed was about Tudor and Stuart houses. The same group worked from picture books. They were familiar with the subject and the books - this could have been a drawback but Richard did not allow it to be. He drew the children out and got good vocabulary work from them.
I tried some of the songs from "Swinging Samson" on the guitar today. It ended up that that never did actually come to anything; I'll get to why later.

After school, there was another staff meeting with the science teacher, John Meadows, from the college. This time, he talked about light. It concerned mainly the concept that light always travels in straight lines. It was entitled "Light Interventions".

There were sets of drawings of various lighting conditions and shadows to be discussed. There were 6 pictures altogether. One had a picture of a girl looking at a birthday cake with a single, lit candle, with questions about the light and dark areas of the picture. The second was of a girl sitting at a table with flowers in a dark room, with light shining in through a partially opened door. The third was a night scene, outside, with a person crossing the street at a zebra crossing in front of a car (on the left side of the road of course) shining its headlights at him; with questions about who can see what. The fourth was of a girl sitting at a desk under a lamp, looking at a book. The fifth, called "Mirror and torch" (torch meaning flashlight), was of a girl looking at her reflection in a mirror, with a flashlight shining from behind, with questions about the reflections. the last one was of cats in dark bushes, with questions about the cats' eyes. The pictures also had a question or two simply to describe the picture, like whether the person looks happy or sad.

There were also cardboard boxes, smaller than shoeboxes, which were made for a torch (flashlight) to shine into, and which had mirrors. A person could look into the box, through a hole at the opposite end or through a viewing slot, and see how the beam of light traveled, seeing where it is going, comparing the amount of light coming through the hole and the slot after reflecting off the mirror. When doing the experiments, the children would work in pairs, one looking in and the other shining the light, switching roles after one is finished.

First the class is supposed to discuss how they think light behaves, such as how the light of the sun gets here, how far a candle's light can travel, etc. Then they get to see and handle the boxes, and complete a worksheet. Then they do the activities with the box, and then complete the second worksheet.

He asked that the teachers try the experiments he suggested that they let him know the results of his experiment.

The meeting lasted until about 5:00.

I left with the following note telling me what to prepare for the next day of school, which would be Monday:

  9-10.50  Finish work (RE)
           Autobiography work
           (finishup work + My first day at school)

  Joanne A.
  In classroom
  11.30/11.45:  Grammar:  Commas
  Full stops:
  1.30-2.30  Games/Drama

  2.O'clock:- Maths  Volume p. 81/82
              Friday's math groups
              Jamie et al.

The next day was an in-service day for the teachers. But before we all left, the Headteacher said that she did not think we should come in at all. We accepted her advice.

I'm not sure when I first realized that I didn't have my keys, but I was well aware of it by the time I got back to Kent House that evening! I didn't know whether I had left them in the room, or if I had lost them somewhere. Fortunately, my roommate just happened to be in the room, and sure enough I found my keys there in the room. I used to like to keep valuables and some other things locked in my suitcase, and had my suitcase key attached to the room and front-door keys. That morning, I had gotten something out of my suitcase and locked it up, but had forgotten to take my keys. But fortunately, there they were.

For dinner, I just got a cheese and tomato sandwich for 42p from the Late-Night Shop across the street, and a can of Tizer soda (the best kind of soda I found in England) for 25p.

Friday, Nov.13

Friday the Thirteenth of November was our first of two holidays during the stay in London, but only for those of us at St. John's.

I started the day with watching England's educational television. I found some pretty interesting programs. One explained the old system of English money. It showed the old way of writing money, with slashes, i.e. 3/4/2 would mean 3 pounds 4 shillings 2 pence. It also explained the values of the old monetary system, which I wrote down so I'd remember it, on a bag:

   4 farthings = 1 penny
  12 pence     = 1 shilling
  20 shillings = 1 pound
   8 crowns    = 1 pound

I watched television until 11:30.

Then, I decided I'd try to find Westminster Cathedral. Somehow I ended up at the National Gallery. Those two places are nowhere near each other: the cathedral is near Victoria station, and the National Gallery is near Trafalgar Square. How I ended up at the National Gallery when I was planning to go to Westminster Cathedral I'll never know. The trick was that I was still completely unfamiliar with London altogether, had no bearings, and had no idea where I was when I was anywhere in London.

Since I noticed that the sign said that the National Gallery was free, I decided, what the heck, why not! So I ended up spending quite a few hours wandering around in the National Gallery. And that's just what I did, just wandered from one room to the next, looking at the pictures. Once in a while I'd just happen to run into a tour being guided, and I'd spend a few minutes listening before going on. Sometimes it was rather interesting. I can still remember one of the descriptions of one of the paintings. I sure wish I could remember what painting it was! I'd recognize it if I saw it again. Another time I was simply tired from walking, and sat down on a bench, and listened to a guide taking around a group of children.

I found one unique thing in the National Gallery: a water fountain! I never thought I'd ever see a water fountain in London. I was very glad that I did at that point.

Later, I went around to some of the bookstores, the second-hand bookstores, around Leicester Square. This time, I bought some. I got a good price on a book which was a collection of Flower Fairies of the Seasons. I always liked those books. They are very hard to find in America, but are very popular in London! I also got a paperback book of children's songs called "Chorus: The Puffin Colony Song Book". I bought both books at a very nice, small, cramped bookstore specializing in children's books, called Peter Stockham at Images. The Flower Fairy book cost me £6.95 (not cheap, but a good price for a boxed hardback book), and the little book cost me 70p (the list price). The card I got at the store says "Cecil Court has some seventeen other book and print shops, making it the largest concentration of such shops in the world." The card calls the store `Alladin's Cave' of books: Illustrated books, children's books (c18th to William, Rupert, Sendak, &c.), and books on Book Collecting, Art History, Fine Printing, Design, Circus, Dolls, Toys, &c. We are always interested in buying quality items. We can often produce the book you have searched everywhere for!"

I also got around to exchanging the remaining $200 in Travelers' Checks I had with me. I hadn't wanted to exchange them all at once, in case anything happened to my money. Maybe I should have though. The exchange rate was getting rapidly worse and worse while I was there. It was now at 1.765. I exchanged it at the same place as last time, and got another £104.25.

For dinner, I got an egg sandwich at a food stand in the tube and a coke, a regular coke - I never did find any classic coke the whole time in London. My roommate said he found a store selling it way down in south London in zone 3 (beyond my pass).

Next, I decided to take a sight-seeing ride to nowhere. From King's Cross, I got a number 30 bus to South Kensington. From there, I took a 49 bus for a very long ride to somewhere called Gloucester Street, for no particular reason.

I do like riding on those double-decker busses. They are the greatest thing for sight-seeing! The only problem is that the top of the bus is also the smoking area. Sometimes it gets intolerably smoky up there, and I'm forced down to the lower part, which is non-smoking.

After I got off that bus, wherever I was, I walked around for a while. There were a lot of foreign food stores there. I thought it might be interesting sometime to get some things in some of those stores (but I never did). I also bought a stack of postcards. They were only 10p each (cheap).

I took the tube to get back to Kent House. It was about 9:45 by the time I got home.

I never did get to the cathedral.

Saturday, Nov.14

This was the day of the annual Lord Mayor's Show, one of the biggest events of the year for London.

I left Kent House at 10:00. It was a beautiful day, bright and sunny, a little windy and chilly but not at all bad.

I took the tube to St. Paul's. There, I bought a program for £1, and then went hunting for a good spot.

I found a marvelous spot for watching the parade. It was at a bend in the path of the parade, which provided a terrific view. And I was early enough to get quite close to the front! As I stood there, it rapidly grew more and more crowded. The Guy Fawke's fireworks crowd was nothing compared to this! People were literally packed together. I felt sorry for anybody who had to get from one place there to another!

Less than an hour and a half later, at 11:30, the parade began to pass the spot I had chosen to watch from. The parade was spectacular. Their floats make our idea of floats look like kiddie toys in comparison. They were amazing. I took a lot of pictures there. The parade lasted until about 12:45, when the very end of the parade had gone by.

But after the parade was over the excitement was nowhere near being over. At St. Paul's immediately after the parade was the Paternoster Fayre: rides, performers, food, candy, games. It was also very crowded, and not too big, but I enjoyed being there. I bought an expensive hot dog for lunch for £1. There was a stall selling something called Old Fashioned Fairings. That sounded interesting and typically English, so I bought some, with no idea what it was, for 60p. Whatever it was, it was very good. It seemed to be made of honey.

Then I watched the Children's Theatre of London performing Christmas songs. It was slightly disappointing.

Then there was a team of Morris dancers - The Pilgrim Morris Men, a real, traditional Morris dance, with fool and cake. I wanted to get a piece of the cake, but he stopped selling it before I could get to it. For one of the dances, they got a lady from the audience to participate. It ended with their lifting her up into the air! It was pretty funny.

The festivities continued all day, ending with fireworks over the Thames, but I didn't stay for all of it. I regret not having stayed for all of it; I have no idea why I went back to Kent House before it was completely over. That wasn't a very smart thing to do.

But I did go out again that day. I was now beginning to realize that I could not afford to eat out every evening! So, the time had come to go grocery-shopping. I just went across the street and picked up some bread and mayonnaise and cheese and some coke. With a knife borrowed from the kitchen on the second floor, I was set for dinner for at least the next few days. England has the biggest selection of cheeses I've ever seen! It's mostly mild cheddar, just what I like. It wasn't as exotic as fish and chips, but I was satisfied.

That night, I decided to go to the English Folkdance and Song Society, at the Cecil Sharp House in Camden Town. I had read about it in my American Express Guide to London, and found it in the map in that book. It's just north of the London Zoo. The book said that they have dancing every Saturday night.

I managed to get to Camden Town on the 74 bus. Then, I had to find Regent's Park Road. I was at the Camden Town Station. Having a map with Regent's Park Road, my task might have been easy, except that the station where I was was off the map! I could try following the signs to the zoo, and find it from there, I thought. But the streets around there are terribly confusing because they curve in odd directions. I tried asking for directions, but nobody seemed to know their way around there! After wandering for a short while, somehow I ended up on Regent's Park Road, and I found the Cecil Sharp House.

It's a big, lovely building, sitting on the angle of a fork in the road. Traffic around there, even though they're small streets, is terrible, and it's murder trying to cross those streets. It was hardly worth it, though, because it was dark and there was nobody around anywhere. I waited until it was far enough past 7:30 (the time the dances are scheduled for), that I could be positive that there was no dance here tonight. Disappointed and confused, I left. I got another bus, a 94 I think it was, back to Camden Town Station.

I then got on another bus and took off. The traffic was terrible, jams all the way. Travel around London is the slowest on Earth it seems like. It was getting late, and I was getting tired.

I ended up completely lost. I was someplace called Tottenham Court Road when I got off the bus. Fortunately, that is on the Piccadilly Line, so I headed straight for the tube! Tottenham Court Road is one of the prettiest of all the underground stations. There are beautiful mosaics covering all the walls. And when you get on or off there, a voice comes out of nowhere saying over and over again, very slowly, the whole time the doors are open, "Mind the gap. Mind the gap. Mind the gap." There is an empty space of about six inches between the edge of the platform and the train, so it's an important warning. But the expression "Mind the gap" and the way it was said we Americans always thought was very funny; I always liked it at that station because of that.

Despite the many disappointments of that day: my foolish decision to leave before the Lord Mayor's Show had completely ended, finally getting to the Cecil Sharp House and finding no dance there, and then getting lost on the way home, it was actually the happiest day I had spent so far during my stay in London. Now, for the first time, I was beginning to like it there. Up until then, I had hated being in London! I wished I had never come, and was looking forward to getting out. But now my outlook on London was completely reversed. The fantastic parade, the Fayre, the Morris dancers, no, London was not such a bad place after all.

Sunday, Nov.15

I spent this morning mostly watching television. There is a long show on called "Treasure Hunt" which I never did quite figure out. I also watched Jon Pertwee in "Worzel Gummidge Down Under".

I sent a postcard to my sister Diane, and wrote out several others that day.

I went to Mass at Corpus Christi Church near Charing Cross, one of the nicest churches in London, which had been recommended to me by a priest friend, Father Sangermano. The church was not easy to find. I had my trusty American Express Pocket Guide to London map with me, and followed it every step of the way. The church is on Maiden Lane, a very narrow street about a block from The Strand (one of the main streets of London). The street has mostly restaurants along it. But there is a fairly big yellow and white sign, saying "Catholic Church" to mark where it is. It does look like a church, but it's in the middle of a row of buildings on such a narrow street, it's not easy to spot. Also on Maiden Lane is the center for the Latin Mass Society.

Before Mass there was Benediction and Rosary (oddly, the Rosary would be said there without the Creed, Our Father, Three Hail Mary's, and Glory Be at the beginning). That was at 5:30. Then the priest there, Father Dodd, would go to the back of the little church and pull a cord to start ringing the big bell on top of the church for the beginning of Mass.

Mass was at 5:50 P.M. I knew that they sometimes have a Latin Mass at that church, but this was a regular, but nicely done, English Mass. But I found out the times for the Latin Mass, and found out that they have a Tridentine Mass every Monday at 5:45.

I took a number 77 bus home. I got back to Kent House at 7:00.

I had a strange dream that night. I dreamed that I got off a plane, lost in some Spanish-speaking country. Then I went to China (Hong Kong), and to a Chinese school. It was weird. Then I had a dream about it raining bubbles that were dangerous for people with asthma. Then I was lost again. (Now why would somebody in a foreign country keep having dreams about being lost?)

The Third Week

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